India & Pakistan cricketers in Kashmir spat

Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir (C) and Pakistan's Shahid Afridi (R) exchange words during their third One-day International (ODI) match at the Green Park Stadium in Kanpur, 11 November 2007.

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Shahid Afridi, left, and Gautam Gambhir have played many international matches against each other

The Kashmir conflict between India and Pakistan has now extended to a social media tiff between cricketers.

Former Pakistani captain Shahid Afridi and ex-India opener Gautam Gambhir sparred on Twitter over the restive region that is claimed by both nations in its entirety.

Afridi tweeted on Tuesday that the situation was “appalling and worrisome in Indian-occupied Kashmir”.

This prompted Gambhir to retort that Afridi had a “retarded dictionary”.

Kashmir has been a flashpoint for more than 60 years and the two nations have fought two wars over it.

It all began when Afridi called India an “oppressive regime” and appealed to the UN to intervene in Indian-administered Kashmir which saw its worst day of violence in years at the weekend.

On Sunday, at least three Indian soldiers and 13 suspected militants were killed in gun battles south of Srinagar. Four civilians died and more than 200 were injured in protests sparked by the clashes.

Gambhir rejected Afridi’s understanding of the situation in Kashmir.

Afridi responded with another tweet, this time with a picture of him with Indian cricket fans.

Afridi is not the only Pakistani cricketer who has recently tweeted on Kashmir. Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan also urged the UN to intervene in a tweet on Monday.

The Kashmir dispute often evokes strong reactions from Indians and Pakistanis.

Separatists have waged a violent campaign against Indian rule since the late 1980s, leaving tens of thousands of people dead in the conflict.

Indian security forces are often accused of using disproportionate force against protesters, a charge the government denies.

What is Kashmir dispute?

Even before India and Pakistan won their independence from Britain in August 1947, Kashmir was hotly contested.

Under the partition plan provided by the Indian Independence Act, Kashmir was free to accede to India or Pakistan.

The maharaja (local ruler), Hari Singh, chose India and a two-year war erupted in 1947.

A new war followed in 1965, while in 1999 India fought a brief but bitter conflict with Pakistani-backed forces.

By that time, India and Pakistan had both declared themselves to be nuclear powers.

How Australia's cricket scandal stung an incredulous nation

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Media captionAustralian players Cameron Bancroft and Steve Smith admit ball-tampering plan

What were they thinking? It’s a simple question that has consumed many Australians since the nation’s cricket team was engulfed in a cheating scandal in South Africa.

This weekend, captain Steve Smith said his team’s “leadership group” had hatched a plan to deliberately tamper with the ball during a Test in Cape Town.

The revelation has embarrassed a nation where elite athletes are often adored and even feted as “legends”.

The reaction here to those extraordinary events in South Africa has been furious. There is anger, disbelief and disappointment, even among some Australians with little interest in sport.

“Clearly this scandal will tarnish Australia’s sense of fair play, and moreover it will linger for many years,” said Prof David Shilbury, from Melbourne’s Deakin University.

“The notion that the captain, the vice captain and perhaps others could conspire to cheat in such a deliberate manner is reprehensible and contrary to the Australian way of life. We play hard but fair, generally!”

Australia has an enviable stable of globally renowned scientists, authors, entrepreneurs and artists. However, in the eyes of many, a special place is reserved for its sporting royalty.

An appreciation of athletic endeavour and, crucially, excellence often enters discussions of national identity. Revered are those at the top of Australian rules football, the rugby codes, football, netball and horse racing, not to mention the Olympics, Paralympics and Commonwealth Games.

But dominating this competitive landscape, at least in national terms, is cricket.

“It is ingrained in our society over summer, along with the beach. The tones of cricket commentary on radio and TV fill the airwaves during the summer period in a soothing manner. That soothing background noise has now become foreground drama,” said Prof Shilbury.

“The team represents Australia, and given our interest in sport and winning, it is important to the nation for the team to do well. Generally, the Australian Test captain is regarded as the second highest leadership post in the land behind the prime minister.”

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Media captionAustralian cheating beyond belief – PM Turnbull

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has chided Smith and those teammates who allegedly colluded with him, saying the scandal “beggars belief”.

But so lofty and privileged is the position of Australian Test captain that they can become detached from reality, according to Steve Georgakis, a senior lecturer of sports studies at the University of Sydney.

“I assume that people like Steve Smith and some of the other former captains develop a god-like complex that they can get away with anything,” he told the BBC.

“We are usually the nation that fights against corruption in sport, but here we have the captain of the Australian cricket team involved in cheating. We see ourselves as this great sporting nation and this has really tarnished that image.

“It is a big shock when our heroes do something wrong.”

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Smith and vice-captain David Warner stood down for the final day of the Third Test

Australia lost the third Test at Newlands by 322 runs, but the result hardly matters as Cricket Australia (CA), the governing body, begins an internal investigation into the crisis.

It will be a pivotal investigation. What senior CA officials uncover in South Africa and whatever the response is that follows will help to shape the way this sports-obsessed country heals. There is an expectation here that cheating must be purged if cricket is to be forgiven.

But great damage has been done.

“It is going to take a long time for Australia to repair its reputation internationally,” said Prof Catharine Lumby from Macquarie University.

“Australians have a great investment in the fair go and the idea that we do the right thing and we don’t engage in underhand behaviour. It is a bit of a mythology, really, but it goes to the core of the way many people understand our national identity.”

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Media captionI don’t remember ever being as disappointed – veteran Australian commentator Jim Maxwell

Clearly, there will be Australians who care little about cricket and a controversy about a scuffed ball across the Indian Ocean. But Matthew Beard, a philosopher and fellow at the Ethics Centre in Sydney, believes this is a scandal that goes to the heart of virtue and temperament.

“All the way back to the ancient Greeks, the entire purpose of sport was to test character and practice overcoming challenges and struggles in a fictional, contrived environment,” he told the BBC. “[That was] so that when we were faced with challenges in the real world we would be able to overcome them there as well.

“There is a sense of seeing our heroes fall and seeing that they weren’t the people of character we thought they could be.”

Australia has a golden sporting legacy that includes the annual Boxing Day Test, the 2000 Sydney and 1956 Melbourne Olympics, the Formula 1 Grand Prix and feverish Australian Football League (AFL) and National Rugby League (NRL) Grand Finals.

The Commonwealth Games on Queensland’s Gold Coast start next week.

Will it restore some sporting faith, or perhaps be a welcome distraction? For many, the ball-tampering affair has heaped shame on a proud nation.

'Unusual' if Lehmann unaware of ball plan, says ex-Aussie coach

Watch: Bancroft and Smith admit ball-tampering plan

It would be “highly unusual” if Australia coach Darren Lehmann was unaware of his players’ plan to tamper with the ball against South Africa, says former coach John Buchanan.

Buchanan, who led Australia between 1999 and 2007, also believes captain Steve Smith’s position is untenable.

Cricket Australia says it expects to “fully update” people on Tuesday about its findings on the incident.

“We know Australians want answers,” said chief executive James Sutherland.

Smith has been banned for one match and fined his entire match fee by cricket’s world governing body for his involvement.

But Australian cricket chiefs have held off on issuing punishments while they carry out their own inquiry.

“It is unusual as the teams are walking out that the coach is unaware of what’s about to happen,” Buchanan, who led Australia to a world-record 16 consecutive Test victories and three World Cup triumphs, told BBC Radio 5 live’s Breakfast programme.

“Generally it will be the coach and captain, in the last couple of minutes before they go to the field, who will be saying ‘these are the sort of things we want to do and put in place when we get out on the field’.”

He added: “Personally I don’t think Steve Smith can continue as captain. It may be his first major error but it is such an enormous error of judgement.

“Hopefully he can continue as a player but I would have thought there is very little opportunity for him to retain his position as captain.”

Former Australia batsman Marcus North, who played 21 Tests in 2009 and 2010, thinks it is “inevitable” Smith will not continue as captain and says Lehmann faces “some difficult questions”.

An ill-tempered series against South Africa has been marred by confrontations between players and complaints from Lehmann about “disgraceful” verbal abuse.

“The behaviour of the team recently has not been up to the standard expected,” said North.

“We have already seen a lot of issues in this series and this is another thing that has happened in his tenure.”

Australia’s prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said the latest incident had “shocked and bitterly disappointed” him.

Many former players have criticised the actions of the current Australia team and management, with ex-skipper Michael Clarke – Smith’s predecessor – describing it as “premeditated cheating”.

Senior Cricket Australia (CA) officials Iain Roy and Pat Howard have arrived in South Africa to conduct an inquiry into the “specifics” of the incident.

Sutherland is travelling to Cape Town and will meet Roy and Howard on Tuesday to “understand the findings of the investigation to that point, and to determine recommended outcomes”.

How the incident unfolded

Australia ball-tampering row: Simon Hughes explains what happened in Cape Town

Smith said the team’s “leadership group” had agreed a plan, carried out by batsman Cameron Bancroft, to tamper with the ball to “get an advantage”.

Bancroft admitted in a news conference following the third day’s play that he had tampered with the ball while fielding, after television pictures showed him using what the 25-year-old opener says was yellow tape with grit on.

Smith, who appeared alongside Bancroft at the news conference, will miss the fourth and final Test of the series after being punished by the International Cricket Council (ICC). He also stepped down from his captaincy role for the final day of the Test, which Australia lost.

But Smith said he would not consider stepping down permanently, adding that he was still “the right person for the job”.

Bancroft was fined 75% of his match fee and given three demerit points.

Smith, 28, admitted a charge of conduct “of a serious nature that is contrary to the spirit of the game”, according to a statement from governing body the ICC.

ICC chief executive David Richardson said “the game needs to have a hard look at itself”, while the MCC – the guardian of the laws and spirit of cricket – has called for a “major shift in attitude and culture” within the game.

Australia lost 10 wickets in the final session of day four to lose the third Test by 322 runs. The final match of the ill-tempered series, which South Africa now lead 2-1, begins in Johannesburg on Friday.

‘A terrible day’, ‘pathetic penalties’ – how did people react?

Clarke said the incident was “a terrible day for Australian cricket” and condemned its instigators for choosing Bancroft to carry it out.

“I can’t believe the leadership group have got a young kid playing in his eighth Test match to do this,” Clarke told Australia’s Channel Nine.

“We have got the best bowling attack in the world. We don’t need to cheat to beat anyone.”

Former Test vice-captain Adam Gilchrist told BBC Radio 5 live he was “stunned and shocked… embarrassed and sad”.

The legendary wicketkeeper added: “Australian cricket is the laughing stock of the sporting world.”

Former Australia fast bowler Jason Gillespie said he expected to see a “big change of personnel” in the current set-up following the incident.

“The Australia side has to have a deep reflection on how they go about the game, how they’re perceived in the wider cricketing world,” he said. “That perception isn’t good, that’s the brutal reality.”

Former England captain Michael Vaughan criticised the “pathetic penalties” handed down to Smith and Bancroft by the ICC. In a series of tweets, Vaughan said: “Surely this moment was the time to set a precedent. All the team should be penalised.”


BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew:

Ball-tampering has always happened in cricket but it’s exceptionally difficult to prove. This time they have someone who has admitted his guilt – he’s a captain, the act was premeditated and, worst of all, he has clearly coerced the most inexperienced player in his team to go out and do the dirty work for them, and that’s awful.

Australia have very few friends in cricket at the moment. The boorish way in which they’ve behaved over the years hasn’t helped.

The current series between Australia and South Africa has been ill-tempered. There’s been bad blood about the way the Australians play the game.

Many in the cricket world will feel a sense of satisfaction today about what they’ll see as chickens coming home to roost.

I really think this is an opportunity for the Australian authorities to look very carefully at their game.

The Daily Telegraph in Australia
The Daily Telegraph in Australia

India renew Shami's contract after clearing him of corruption charge

Mohammad Shami

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India’s cricket board has renewed the contract of fast bowler Mohammad Shami after clearing him of charges levelled by his estranged wife.

Shami’s contract was put on hold after Hasin Jahan accused him of corruption, domestic violence and adultery.

He has denied all the allegations against him.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said an internal investigation had cleared Shami of the corruption charges made against him.

His contract gives him 30mn rupees ($460,200, £325,982) a year.

He will also be free to represent his team, the Delhi Daredevils, at the Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament which is due to start in April.

The BCCI did not mention the other charges made against the cricketer, when it announced the decision to reinstate his contract.

  • India cricketer Mohammad Shami charged with domestic violence
  • Mohammad Shami contract on hold

Vinod Rai, chairman of the BCCI Supervisory Committee had said earlier that Ms Jahan’s allegations had put them in a “catch 22” situation.

“Ordinarily you would distinguish and say that is a personal issue and the contract is a professional issue. But someone could easily point out and say this allegation is an unsavoury one and you are still rewarding him,” he told sports website ESPN Cricinfo.

The police charged Shami with domestic violence following the complaint by Ms Jahan.

Police say the 27-year-old fast bowler has also been charged under laws related to attempted murder, poisoning and criminal intimidation.

India lauds Dinesh Karthik's victorious cricket innings

Dinesh Karthik

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He scored 29 runs off eight balls to help India win the Nidahas Trophy

Cricketer Dinesh Karthik has taken social media by storm after his batting heroics in the final of a tri-series T20 tournament took India to victory.

Karthik’s 29 runs off eight balls helped his team snatch victory from Bangladesh at the Nidahas Trophy.

He hit a six off the last ball when India needed five runs to win – causing Twitter to explode with delight.

Former star cricketers Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid were among those celebrating.

Dinesh Karthik was trending on Sunday night and early Monday morning, with many applauding his innings.

The 32-year-old was named man of the match for his performance.

“I’m really happy to come out of this tournament,” Karthik said in the post-match press conference. “It wouldn’t have done justice to this tournament had we not won with the bunch of young guys in the team. I have been practising these shots – having a strong base and then hitting from there.”

India vice captain Rohit Sharma, who was captaining the team in the absence of Virat Kohli, told reporters it was a “brilliant game”, adding that he was “very happy” to see Karthik’s powerful performance.

Many regulars like Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya did not play in the match, with younger and newer players taking their place. “Great tournament for us,” Sharma told media after the match. “These games are not easy and these guys have not played a lot for the national team. And this performance will give them a lot of confidence.”

Tributes paid to 'voice of Yorkshire cricket'

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Media captionDave Callaghan worked for the BBC in radio and TV and was fondly known as the ‘voice of Yorkshire cricket’

Tributes have been paid to Dave Callaghan, the man widely regarded as the voice of Yorkshire cricket, who has died aged 63 following a heart attack.

Mr Callaghan, who worked for BBC Radio Leeds and Look North, was taken ill on Friday and died on Monday night.

Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) said he was a “much-loved personality” and “held in the highest regard”.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan said on Twitter: “We have lost one of life’s great men.”

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Mr Callaghan, who was known as Cally or DC, had worked in sports journalism for more than 45 years, working as sports editor at BBC Radio Leeds and as a commentator for Leeds United.

The YCCC team held a minute’s silence and wore black armbands in tribute to him ahead of their game with Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club on their current tour in Potchefstroom, South Africa.

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Yorkshire cricketers pay tribute while on tour in South Africa

Mr Callaghan was principally “considered by many as the voice of Yorkshire Cricket”, YCCC said.

In a statement, the club added: “Dave’s passion for Yorkshire cricket was unparalleled and his commentary will forever be associated with some of the greatest moments in our modern history.”

Mark Arthur, the club’s chief executive, said: “Dave was a very special person who loved Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

“This is a terribly sad day and our thoughts are with his wife Pat and his family.”

Jonny Bairstow, Yorkshire and England batsman and wicketkeeper, said Mr Callaghan “was part and parcel of everything that goes on” in the sport.

Speaking from New Zealand, where he is on tour with England, he said: “It’s something that probably won’t sink in until we get back to Headingley, when we get back to the county season and Cally’s not there to do all the commentary.

“To see you when you walk into the ground on a match day, to wish you luck, to do all the commentary, to do the highlights, to come on away tours.

“He was someone that came on the bus with us, he was part and parcel of the team.”

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Dave Callaghan (right and pictured with former umpire Dickie Bird) was a “very special person” in cricket in Yorkshire

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Dave Callaghan (left) pictured in the commentary box with BBC Radio Leeds’ Dave Fletcher

Gareth Jones, sports editor at BBC Radio Leeds, said Mr Callaghan was “a man who truly loved his sport and loved his work”.

“A true professional, who worked tirelessly – always going the extra mile – and all the years I’ve know him I never once heard him moan once about any aspect of his job.

“He always had a smile on his face and we will never forget him.”

Michael Vaughan, who played cricket for Yorkshire and England, and YCCC chairman Steve Denison also paid tribute to Mr Callaghan on Twitter.

A Tribute to Dave Callaghan will be broadcast on BBC Radio Leeds at 18:00 GMT on Tuesday 13 March, and will be available on iPlayer for seven days afterwards.